Bougainville owes K1bil

Main Stories, National

The National, Thursday 17th November 2011

THE Autonomous Bougainville Government is struggling to repay administrative debts of up to K1 billion it had incurred since the operations of the Bougainville interim government in the late 1990s.
Bougainville finance minister Albert Punghau said K5 million would have to be set aside from the K15 million restoration and development grant from the national government to pay off some of the debt.
“We have a real problem. These debts had been incurring progressively up to the present day,’’ he said.
“We owe a lot to private businesses for services rendered, like guesthouse accommodation and transport fuel.”
He said funds were also needed for the Bougainville house of representative and executive government operations which cost K12 million a year.
“That is why I need to go into the K15 million because there is no other money,’’ he said.
“The money that the national government gives is the recurrent unconditional grant that is used to pay wages for the public service. I cannot get that and pay off our debts.”
He said Bougainville’s internal revenue of K9 million was not enough to offset the debts.
Debts included ABG election-related costs of K2.1 million, school fee subsidy of K2.5 million, K1 million for parliamentary services and outstanding contract obligations of K4 million.